There are a few names that come to mind when one is asked what Horror Authors have you heard of. Most would answer with the obvious ones such as: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, and John Saul. All of them great writers, all them bestselling authors. There's another slew of writers that are quite well known by many avid readers. These guys are: Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, and Bently Little, plus our past guests of the Spotlight - Brian Keene, Deborah LeBlanc, Gary A. Braunbeck, and more.
There's one name of a bestselling Author known worldwide except for the country he resided in, America. That name is: Richard Laymon. Author of over thirty books and double that for his short stories.
Richard Laymon was born in Chicago in 1947. He grew up in California and has a BA in English Literature from Willamette University, Oregon, and an MA from Loyola University, Los Angeles. He has worked as a schoolteacher, a librarian and as a report writer for a law firm.
While working those jobs he also managed to develop such amazing stories as The Woods are Dark, a book that was released in America with a terrible green-foiled cover and horribly edited due to content. However, the version released in the UK didn't suffer the same fate which began his rise to fame in England, France, and all over the globe except for America.
Richard's own daughter, Kelly, explained in the forward of TWAD the rough life it had in it's original release through Warner Books. She explained how he often referred to it as the book that ruined his career. Due to the heavy edits and rewrites they demanded he had long thought the book would never be released as it was in his original manuscript. Thank's to the painstaking amount of work Kelly put into getting that book back to it's original version, it was finally released in America last year through Leisure Books.
Through the years he continued writing novels which eventually lead to him being able to do it full time. Sadly, America didn't get to participate in his rise to fame like Europe did. As of today, the internationally bestselling author only has had around half of his books released in America. Though, all of them are available overseas. Thanks to Ann and Kelly Laymon teaming up with Leisure Books, his work has finally seen the light of day here in the states.
His influence is often seen in a lot of today's writers work. Most of them admit to using his work as a guidebook on how to write great fiction. After reading much of Laymon's stories, I agree. It's like Dean Koontz says: "Laymon takes it to the extreme and no one writes like him, you're going to have a good time with anything he writes." The quote by Koontz that's proudly displayed on the covers of many of Laymon's books is probably my favorite. Not only was Koontz and Laymon colleagues; they were friends.
A lot of the bestselling authors most of American readers have grown to love all have quotes on Laymon's covers, such as Stephen King: "If you've missed Laymon, you've missed a treat." Readers, you have no idea. Bently Little has a blurb that's seen in the reviews section of Laymon's titles, he stated: "I've always been a Laymon fan."
From titles such as Endless Night, The Stake, After Midnight, and Dark Mountain, you've really missed a treat if you haven't read any of them. His Beast House Trilogy, which is some of his most popular work is worth the time to read as well, The Cellar, The Beast House, and The Midnight Tour - plus they'll leave you sleeping with the lights on. A novella that takes place in the Beast House will finally be released in America - Friday Night in Beast House - is coming soon thanks to Leisure Books.
The Stake is the most recent novel of Laymon's I've had the pleasure to read. Some would say it's almost autobiographical because of the characterization of the main protagonists. A horror writer becomes mixed up in a thirty year old murder mystery that may or may not have to do with vampires. A lot of characters, a lot of stories, all great writing, that leads up to an explosive climax that leave the reader breathless.
I can't say enough about Laymon's plethora of work in one blog. I have decided to write a couple of extended reviews about some of his books. Look for them over the next couple of weeks. But, even doing that seems as if it would still be an injustice to the creator. Richard Laymon is by far my favorite author and many others favorite as well. Sadly, he passed away in 2001 leaving behind his amazing wife Ann, and wonderful daughter Kelly. From what has been said about them by friends and fans, they are a lot like Richard as well, nice, loving people, who would bend over backwards for you if you needed it. Not only is it rare to find a writer who writes like Laymon, it's even more rare to find people as kind-hearted as the Laymon family.